So for my first instalment in my 'Guide To Starting University' Im going to talk you through some of the things you should be doing before you start. It's quite a long guide but I didn't want to miss anything out.
First up is sorting out accommodation, obviously for people who are attending a uni close to their homes and commuting in this won't be a step they need to consider, however even if you are going to a uni in your area make sure to think about the pros and cons to both sides before making the decision not to live in halls.
As first years the best option for student accommodation is Uni owned (or leased) accommodation, this means you apply through the university and you are allocated a room within a halls of residence. All Unis are different in the types of halls they have, with catered, en suite, shared bathroom, first years only and mature student halls. When you apply make sure to look through all the options and decide what is best for you and take into consideration the price.
I'd recommend self catering halls rather than catered as it gives you more independence and freedom to eat when you want and what you want. Also don't worry to much if you're sharing a bathroom with others, after a few weeks you'll become used to it, and it won't bother you as much.
If you've already secured a place in halls then make sure to keep watching your emails and letterbox for any information they may send through or forms that you need to send back. If you haven't got a place in halls yet and you want one, get on it! In some unis places can go quickly and you might miss out. However don't worry if you don't get a place, or you don't want to live in halls, there are other options, some unis have the option of uni owned shared houses or flats. You can also find a privately rented house share, just make sure to check the university's approved list of landlords.
From my own experience I'd recommend living in halls if you want the Freshers experience, you meet so many people and make lots of friends through flat parties and friends of friends. It's also a life changing experience living with people you don't know and having to look after yourself.
Living with random people may seem daunting but don't worry, you may also find your flatmates become your new family, you may find you don't get along with all of them but thats fine. A good way to get to know who you're going to be living with before you move in is via Facebook. A lot of unis have Facebook groups created for each Halls of residence where you can join and find others living in your flat and start chatting!
With moving across the country, making friends and freshers being at the front of your mind you may forget the main reason you're attending university, to get a degree! Preparing for your course is also important before you go. Each course will obviously be different so the best way to make sure you've done everything you need to do before you go is to keep up to date with all the information you get sent.
Reading lists are common within a lot of subjects, so make sure you check these out, however don't go buying all the books straight away, check to see if it's mandatory reading or recommended. If there is a core course book try to get that one to start out, and then maybe buy any others once you've started and can ask the lecturers which ones they would recommend buying. Also remember your library will probably have all the books on the list so if you can't afford to buy them new you can always check them out from there, however there will only be a limited amount and not one for everyone on the course!
If your course has any other pre-starting requirements make sure you do these, you don't want to be behind before you're even started. Most uni's won't ask much of you before you start however, as they're aware how big of a life change starting uni can be! Also a lot of unis ask you to enrol before your course starts, this is normally online and is where you give all your information and confirm you are starting the course.
As well as receiving information about your course, you'll also be getting lots of info about other uni related things. It will feel like an overload of information but try to sieve through to find the important parts, whether thats the Freshers timetable, the gym opening times or how to register at the doctors. Side point, make sure to register at your new doctors asap!
There will also be lots of information online about the services offered by the uni and your student's union. If you know you're going to need a certain service or want advice go find the information and take note. Unis and students unions have lots of services including mental health support, financial help and advice, job shops, societies and sports teams etc. Whatever you think you'll need or you want to know more about the odds are your uni will have information about it online.
So those are the first few things you should be thinking about when you're getting ready to start university. I'll be looking at some other very important things in next weeks post so make sure to check that out as well. Hopefully this has been useful to some of you, and let me know if you're starting uni soon and feel free to ask any questions you may have about starting uni.